The first time we visited Boston was last summer when we spent a week in the idyllic woods of Hingham, MA, camping at the decommissioned munitions depot of Wompatuck State Park. The mornings were crisp as we took the ferry into Beantown. But once our children set foot on the Freedom Trail’s fabled cobblestones, they turned Royally cranky, apparently unhappy with our family’s form or governance. “No vacation without representation!” they cried. Sure, they got to pretend to toss some tea into the harbor and we visited some cool cemeteries, but we had to put them back on the boat before the whites of their eyes ever got to see Bunker Hill.
Even at their worst, they don’t normally act like Russ and Audrey in National Lampoon’s Vacation, but Boston 2021 just wasn’t our best stop. Mostly they’re amazing. Right now our kids are in this sweet spot: not young children, not yet teenagers. They require little supervision, they’re nice, they get along, and they’re up for almost anything. (My “Sweet Spot Theory” only applies if all of your kids are in the 8-ish to 13-ish age range). Just one kid under 8 or over 13 and the formula falls apart and misery ensues. My hypothesis needs more study.)
In October we had a chance to redeem ourselves. Monica was running her first Boston Marathon and we were pumped. This race was particularly interesting because COVID kicked its normal April date to October and Monica qualified in a stiffly competitive smaller field of runners. Making the weekend even more interesting was the fact that our local baseball team, the Tampa Bay Rays, were heading to Boston for playoff games. Half of St. Pete was heading to New England.
Or so they thought.
Monica flew out a day early to take care of pre-race business. Then a series of storms and a broken plane and a lot of bad luck stranded me and the kids at the Tampa airport. Oh, our 3:00 flight took off at 3:00, except the “PM” became “AM”, and by that time we were back at home, snug in our beds.
The day started with great promise. We even boarded the plane on time! Then came a mechanical failure, some bad weather, and the lack of a “pilot” and we ended up just eating lunch and dinner at the airport periodically watching a crowd of people groan with the notification of each delay.
Meanwhile, Monica stayed in her room and cried the entire time because we couldn’t join her. The only thing that could cheer her up was a chance to watch a playoff game from the team’s box. No, I wasn’t jealous. At all.
The 2022 Boston Marathon was back on it regular spring day. Qualifying for this race was less suspenseful because Monica keeps running faster and faster and faster. When the weather turned chilly in Florida and she entered the Celebration Marathon (as in the Disney town of Celebration, Florida) and placed 3rd. I wish I could tell you how exciting it was to watch her finish as the 3rd place overall female in the race… but there were so many half-marathoners coming across the line that it was hard to tell what place she was in. She knew she was on the podium.
We went over in our RV and boondocked at a Cracker Barrel. The temperature dipped near freezing and Monica turned in a scorching 3:15:56. Our buddy Mike also put up a massive PR with a sub 3:00:00 and qualified for his first Boston Marathon.
So, it was on to Boston. And this time, the stars were aligned. The planes were on time, the kids were psychologically
damaged programmed to behave, everything went to plan.
First flight and first hotel for the kids since the start of the pandemic. They’ve developed an appreciation for simple things, like beds and elevators.
Why yes, that IS 2021 Olympic Bronze Medalist Molly Seidel (white sunglasses) and 2018 Boston Marathon winner Des Linden (blue mask). Fun fact: Monica finished 2,357th out of 10,500. Molly “DNF’d” so—technically—Monica beat the bronze medalist. Now we’re just waiting on that call from Nike.
When a night in the hotel costs more than a single RV payment, you improvise. We packed a picnic lunch to eat before heading to Fenway. Problem was, it was 45 degrees. So we grabbed coffees and stealthily ate in the cozy shop.
On a clear chilly day, Monica cruised to a 3:28:34. I say “cruised” because I wasn’t the one running for three and half hours. Monica actually made it from Hopkinton to Boston faster than an injured friend who took the train from the start back to the finish.
I think we’ve successfully exorcised the demons of Boston. The Boston Marathon is a sporting event experience like no other. There aren’t many opportunities to watch your friends and family compete at the same time as the world’s fastest at the sport’s premier event. Throwing a pass during the Super Bowl or taking a few swings during the World Series will definitely get you in trouble.
You’re enjoying the FIFTH year of “Don’t Make Me Turn This Van Around.” This blog is written by Jonathan Kile, and approved by Monica Kile. In 2016, after series of major medical issues, Jon was diagnosed with a serious genetic condition called Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. With life completely altered, they developed a road-trip habit. Reach Jon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Monica is a non-profit consultant, grant writer, marathoner, baker, tour guide, and prolific bath taker. Also, don’t forget to follow our Instagram feed for stuff that doesn’t make the blog. Finally, check our the online tours of St. Petersburg that Monica does for I Love The Burg.